By JENNY BARDWELL
The girl lay awake again. She stared blankly at the wall next to her and begged sleep to take her once more. Insomnia plagued her, and she could no longer convince herself that the exhaustion was imaginary. Frustration flared inside of her, and she rolled over, looking up in sick desperation. A shadow grew from the window, stretched up against a wall and finally curled up on the ceiling of the room. The shadow had sliced across the girl’s room for as long as she could remember, but that night, she felt as if she were noticing it for the first time.
It appeared in the exact same place every night, and always faded away at the break of dawn. She had seen it since she was a child, but had only paid enough attention to know that it existed for she always fell asleep before giving it much thought. But on that night, with nothing else to occupy her, the girl was free to wonder about the strange dark presence.
The light from a street lamp outside her window was spilling into the room, reflecting off the white walls and giving them a lurid pale yellow tint. The dim glow bled into the room, struggling to illuminate the chamber. The girl surveyed the scene, feeling vulnerable in spite of the safety of the darkness. A few light poles lined the street between the house and the lamppost, but if the shadow were made by one of them its deep hue would be obscured. The girl was puzzled. She thought about the view again. Trees. There were trees blocking the light between the lamppost and the window. The trees were the cause of the presence in her room. She relaxed, and settled back down, with sleep slowly dragging her down into its depths.
Suddenly her eyes flew open. The shadow was far too corporeal to be made by a tree, or any tree that grew in the neighborhood. She sat up, picturing the scene outside her window, one she knew by heart. The view with nothing, nothing that could cause such a shadow. Fear flooded her body and clouded her mind as she sat staring petrified by the dark void that hung on her wall. It was impossible. It did not belong. The shadow seemed to consume the girl as she sat motionless, focused on the thing that should not be. Her wide eyes bore into the shallow demonic mass as it, as if fed by her sudden fright, began to move.
The man had stood in the same place every night and left before each dawn. His shadow crept along the wall and barely touched the ceiling. He had always wanted to remain in this state of constant observation. But when the girl sat up suddenly that night and stared at his shadow with an alien look he assumed to be horror, he knew he could no longer be docile. He began to approach the window.